Ever since Moneyball came out, analytics have become more and more popular in the world of sports. Of course, tracking various stats was a thing even before the movie, but the need to use math in something as basic as sports, especially football, seemed quite strange at the time, to say the least.
Of course, basic calculations like possession, pass accuracy, number of saves, and shots on/off target have been an integral part of the game for quite some time now.
Now, there are different ways of measuring such stats – some of them being quite traditional, and some of them being a bit more contemporary. As mentioned, the evolution of analytics in modern football has affected the game in many different ways. Some of them being betting options – something we will talk about in the rest of the article.
What is a shot on target?
A shot on target is simply any goal attempt that:
– Either finds the net
– Is a clear effort to score but gets stopped by the goalkeeper or the last defending player
It is worth noting that even if, for example, the last defender stops the ball from crossing the line by making a goal-line clearance, it still counts as a shot on target.
Now, does hitting the post or bar count as a shot on target?
To answer the question right away, no, it does not.
To give a broader answer, a shot on target is, as mentioned, basically any shot toward a goal that was either saved by the keeper or blocked by a player. You can see now that hitting either the crossbar or the post should not count as an attempt on target solely because of the fact that the shot wouldn’t have resulted in a goal.
How do various bookies calculate these stats?
Before we get into detail on how bookies calculate shots on target, it’s worth noting that different bookmakers may have their own variations and methods of calculating stats. With that being said, bookmakers typically rely on comprehensive data sources to gather match statistics, in this case, shots on target.
One prominent provider of sports data is Opta, widely recognized for its extensive coverage of football matches, especially the big five leagues. To put it simply, Opta utilizes a sophisticated system that combines both manual and automated data collection techniques. This results in high accuracy and consistency in their statistics.
An example of how the data is gathered manually is through trained analysts who closely observe each match and record various events. The teams are usually quite large, and some analysts focus on one group of stats – like the number of corner kicks and free kicks, while the others focus on something completely different – like the number of yellow and red cards.
As basic as it might sound at first, there are far too many stats for only one person to track. With a little help from high-end software and a large group of highly-trained analysts, people at Opta tend to put out a large number of high-quality stats and provide them to various bookmakers.
When it comes to calculating the shots on target stat, the aforementioned analysts use specific criteria and guidelines to differentiate between shots that are either on or off target. Again, keep in mind that the exact criteria may vary, but the majority of analysts tend to agree on the aforementioned rule of calculating shots on target.
To be slightly more precise, they consider factors such as the shot’s direction, speed, and proximity to the goal. This process allows them to accurately classify whether it was shot on or off target and provide reliable statistics to bookmakers – or basically, any other agency in the football industry that works with these kinds of stats.
Calculations by an example
Let’s say Opta records a match between Everton and Leeds. During the game, Opta’s analysts determine that Everton had a total of 12 shots, with 6 shots on target. Bookmakers like bet365, Paddy Power, and Sky Bet would receive this data and use it to create betting markets related to shots on target.
Later on, they might offer options such as over/under bets on both the total number of shots on target in the match or player-specific bets on the number of shots on target for individual players.
Understanding how shots on target are calculated adds a layer of depth to analyzing a team’s offensive performance in football. While a shot on target refers to any attempt that would have gone into the net if not saved or blocked, hitting the woodwork does not count.
Finally, a goal, irrespective of the attacking player’s intention, is always regarded as a shot on target. By clarifying these rules, we gain a more comprehensive understanding of shots on target and their significance.